I don't have this book yet, but thinking about it. I have heard it is a great source for understanding food and how it works. Now in its updated second edition. Covers ingredients from all over the world and time. Awesome, encyclopedic.
On Food and Cooking
The Science and Lore of the Kitchen
2004, 884 pages
Aromas from Altered Carotenoid Pigments.
Both drying and cooking break some of the pigment molecules in
carotenoid-rich fruits and vegetables into small, volatile fragments
that contribute to their characteristic aromas. These fragments
provide notes reminiscent of black tea, hay, honey, and violets.
One change in the color of green vegetables as they are cooked has
nothing to do with the pigment itself. That wonderfully intense,
bright green that develops within a few seconds of throwing
vegetables into boiling water is a result of the sudden expansion and
escape of gases trapped in the spaces between cells. Ordinarily,
these microscopic air pockets cloud the color of the chloroplasts.
When they collapse, we can see the pigments much more directly.
Soba: Japanese Buckwheat Noodles.
Buckwheat noodles were made in northern China in the 14th century,
and had become a popular food in Japan by around 1600. It's difficult
to make noodles exclusively with buckwheat flour because the
buckwheat proteins do not form a cohesive gluten. Japanese soba
noodles may be from 10%-90% buckwheat, the remainder wheat. They're
traditionally made from freshly milled flour, which is mixed very
quickly with the water and worked until the water is evenly absorbed
and the dough firm and smooth. Salt is omitted because it interferes
with the proteins and mucilage that help bind the dough (p. 483). The
dough is rested, then rolled out to about 3 mm thick and rested
again, then cut into fine noodles. The noodles are cooked fresh, and
when done, are washed and firmed in a container of ice water,
drained, and served either in a hot broth or cold, accompanied by a
Maple Sugaring Without Metal or Fire.
In 1755, a young colonist was captured and "adopted" by a small group
of natives in the region that is now Ohio. In 1799 he published his
story in An Account of the Remarkable Occurrences in the Life and
Travels of Col. James Smith, which includes several descriptions of how the Indians made maple sugar. Here's the most ingenious method.
"We had no large kettles with us this year, and the squaws made the
frost, in some measure, supply the place of fire, in making sugar.
Their large bark vessels, for holding the stock-water, they made
broad and shallow; and as the weather is very cold here, it
frequently freezes at night in sugar time; and the ice they break and
cast out of the vessels. I asked them if they were not throwing away
the sugar? they said no; it was water they were casting away, sugar
did not freeze and there was scarcely any in that ice...I observed
that after several times freezing, the water that remained in the
vessel, changed its color and became brown and very sweet."